For Edgewood resident and retired pediatrician Lisa Miller, youth organizations have the capacity to inspire young people to try new things they never considered possible.
Miller, a former Girl Scout and a troop leader, said her participation in the Girl Scouts during her childhood in the 1960s offered her avenues into experiences that were previously foreign to her. As an adult, Miller used those experiences to give back, becoming an influential donor for the Girl Scouts of Kentucky’s Wilderness Road.
“From my experience and my daughters, it expanded our the horizons and opportunities,” Miller said. “The friendships, the fun, and the things that you wouldn’t normally do otherwise was what I thought was so important.”
The Girl Scouts of Kentucky’s Wilderness Road is headquartered in Lexington, and has over 8,500 girl members. The organization serves 66 counties in northeast and central Kentucky.
Miller grew up in Louisville, joined the Brownies during her second grade year, and continued her participation through third grade. Miller’s mother, Carol Williams, helped recruit her into the Girl Scouts. Carol recently passed, but Miller fondly remembers her impact.
“She still had her uniform and her pin,” Miller said. “I continued to wear her pin actually,” Miller said.
Williams was a former scout herself during the 1930s and early 1940s. Her participation in the Girl Scouts coincided with World War II.
“She let me know about how fun it was,” Miller recalled of her mother’s experience. “They did paper drives. They collected rubber, glass and other items for the war drive. She remembered taking her wagon around the neighborhood, collecting items and turning them in for the cause.”
Miller’s family moved to Milan, Italy when she was entering fourth grade. There was no troop for Miller to join in Italy, which prompted her to go on a hiatus from the Girl Scouts.
Upon her return to the United States toward the end of her 5th grade year, Miller told LINK nky she was too intimidated to rejoin after noticing her neighbor had filled out her sash with merit badges, fearing she had already missed out on a significant amount of time.
Miller’s time as an actual Scout had come to an end, but her involvement in the organization was just beginning. Miller is currently a financial donor to the GSKWR, and helped encourage her daughters, Emily and Karen, to join the Girl Scouts as well.
Both her daughters were Girl Scouts through high school, both winning the esteemed Silver Award along the way, the highest honor a Girl Scout cadette can earn.
During these years, Miller was able to make up for lost time. She earned badges, attended Girl Scout camp and special activities alongside her daughters. This time, it was as a troop leader.
“When I was a Girl Scout leader, we met every other week,” Miller said. “I would have met every week. I had so much fun planning the activities and doing things.”
Miller said she and her daughters took advantage of the Girl Scouts provided her and her daughters with unique opportunities to travel throughout the world. They were able to travel to Europe, visiting countries such as Switzerland, France and England through the Girl Scouts. Karen in particular was impacted by her travels, as her exposure to European architecture planted the seed for her current career as an architect.
After her children graduated, Miller was asked to serve on the board of the former Licking Valley Girl Scout Council where she dedicated significant amount of time throughout her life. The Licking Valley Girl Scouts serves Northern Kentucky girls aged five through 17.
As part of her service on the Girl Scouts of Kentucky’s Wilderness Road Council, Lisa recounts traveling to Lexington for monthly meetings with an annual meeting at a camp, where they ate in the mess hall with the Girl Scouts, feeling what it was like to be young, inspired, and energetic once again.
Miller recounts how her involvement in Girl Scouts during her youth led her to experience other diverse cultures in her hometown of Louisville, through recreational and charitable group activities.
“Looking back, especially with more recent talks about racism, the Girl Scouts exposed me to other cultures at young age,” Miller said. It was my exposure people to people of other backgrounds when I was little.”
Miller believes that the Girl Scouts has added tremendous value to her life, as well as her daughters, and hopes other young women in Northern Kentucky can find value in the organization as well.
“It’s a great opportunity for experiences girls wouldn’t have otherwise,” Miller said. “The Girl Scouts allows girls from different backgrounds to explore their many interests in a fun, educational, and safe environment alongside their friends.”
While Miller may not have had many years of the traditional childhood scouting experience like her mother and daughters, she still found the opportunity to participate later in life, which has expanded her leadership and philanthropic capacity.